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Cyprus Education

On second day of strike, teachers initiate ‘info’ campaign

Photo: Christos Theodorides)

By Evie Andreou

State teachers on Wednesday launched info campaigns in all districts during the second day of their 48-hour strike calling for the protection of state schools, while their union leaders are to meet on Thursday to discuss their next moves.

Schools remained closed for the second day due to the strike. Teachers are protesting against the cabinet’ decision in July slashing class exemptions for extracurricular activities and as a perk of seniority. Unions say that these were unilateral decisions and they were not consulted on the matter before the government announced them.

Teachers in all districts gathered in central locations and distributed info material to passers-by explaining why they went on strike in the wake of the bad press their strike has received. They also hoisted banners reading: “No to the break-up of public schools.”

But despite government representatives, and trade union SEK, which stepped in on Tuesday trying to help alleviate the problem, expressing optimism that the crisis would be resolved, teacher unions – Poed, Oltek and Oelmek – said that nothing has been agreed and that their boards would hold separate meetings on Thursday to discuss the latest developments and decide accordingly.

The head of primary education teachers’ union Poed, Fylios Fylaktou, said that the union boards will examine all suggestions coming from all sides.

He added that following their appeal on Tuesday to the House president to intervene, they will also request the involvement of political party leaders.

“If we decide on any other measures at school, it will again be within the framework of legality,” Fylaktou said, giving the reassurance that they would not be to the detriment of children.

At the moment, he said, the effort is focused on “institutional dialogue’ which has been the reason for their protest.

“We want to protect schools that is, so as decisions are not taken in the way we saw on July 4, but they will be taken at the dialogue table,” Fylaktou said.

He added that all unions are expected to adopt the suggestions of SEK. As they concern safeguarding institutional dialogue.

Secondary and primary teachers’ unions decided to go on strike last week because the government rejected additional demands made after an agreement with the unions had been reached.

The two-month dispute concerns the decision by the government to slash some of the teaching exemption benefits of state educators in a bid to save funds to be used for other needs in public education.

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